Monday, June 29, 2009

Oh, Rats

I'm an animal lover, but I draw the line at insects, rodents, and reptiles. They freak me out and I really don't want them in my house, let alone as pets. We have a dog and probably always will and for as long as we've had kids we have had fish (constantly replacing them as they die).

This morning we awoke to find the two fish we've had for quite a while belly up. In the past I just replace them before the kids notice, but this morning my daughter was quicker than I was so I leveled with her and told her they had died. What followed was a series of questions about how they died, why they died, where they'll go now (after we ceremoniously flushed them down the toilet), and what new pet we can get next.

I suggested more fish. However, my daughter said she was "over" fish and wanted a turtle. I like turtles, think they are cute but after a quick google search revealed they are one of the worst pets you can get a child due to the fact they are carriers of salmonella which apparently is transferred pretty easily to a child, that idea was nixed.

A friend suggested a rat and as I was doing a little research my daughter saw a picture online and it was love at first site (Yes, with a rat!) "Oh, that is so cute. I love that rat. I want to get it and it can sleep in my bed with me, and I'll tuck it in." My response. "Seriously?" I hate rats. We have little field mice out here in the desert and I hate seeing them running around. The last thing I want is one in my house that I invited in to stay. After hours of talking about this rat I relented and agreed to go to the pet store.

Right away she and my son fell in love with a Fancy Blue Rat (whatever the heck that means). As I was talking to the "Rodent Expert" the kids just sat there talking to her. I couldn't resist. We got the rat, and the cage, and the food, and all the other millions of things a rat needs.

I'll admit that she's got a good temperament; she lets the kids poke and prod her and she seems happy for the attention. And I'll even admit that I am slightly fascinated by how coordinated and agile she seems to be. But I don't want to touch it or hold it or clean its cage or do anything else that will put me in contact with it. Domesticated or not, it's a rat.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

A Toys R Us Kid

Our daughter's birthday is next week and for months now she has been saying she wants a two wheel bike. So, we planned to take her to the toy store this week and let her pick one out. A couple of days ago she informs me that she has decided she doesn't want a bike for her birthday because it is too hot outside, but wants it for Christmas instead (when it's not hot).

Then I asked her what she wanted for her birthday instead. She said, "I'm not really sure right now. Maybe you can just take me to Toys r Us so I can look around and pick something out there that I want."

And so it begins.......

Friday, June 26, 2009

Revolutionary Road

I watched Revolutionary Road tonight. We've had it in our possession for some time (via Netflix) and tonight I finally sat down to watch it. I had heard great things about it and I like Kate Winslet. We just saw The Reader and thought she was wonderful in that. And while Winslet was great again in this movie, as was DiCaprio, it was not at all what I expected based on previews I had seen and reviews I had read.....or even based on the DVD sleeve description.

While it was a good movie, it was tragically sad, depressing, and really upsetting. The marriage dynamic, the cheating, and the abortion and subsequent consequences were very bothersome. I think had I known what the movie was really about I would have chosen not to watch it.

Have you seen this movie? What did you think, if so?

Thursday, June 25, 2009

The Passing of Fame

It is a bit surreal that Michael Jackson is dead. When I think about it though I could never picture him getting old. Can you picture a 75 year old Michael Jackson? What would he have been like? What would he have looked like? There are many stars that I can picture in later years. Michael Jackson was never one of them. I guess now we will never know.

I love Jackson's music and was morbidly fascinated with him as a character and as a performer. The whole child molestation accusations soured me on him a bit, not to mention that his general behavior was so bizarre. Just the suddenness of his passing is so shocking that it just doesn't seem real.

On the other hand there is the death of Farrah Fawcett. When I read that this morning it made me really sad. I don't know entirely why. I wasn't a fan of hers in particular, but I think just because she was America's sweetheart through much of my childhood it seems all the more surreal that she is gone. Plus the entire situation is so tragic. The battles her son fought with drugs, the fact that he is currently in jail. All of that must have brought her great sadness, not to mention the regret her son must feel.

A shocking day to say the least.

Reflections on What is Wrong with Our Culture

I wrote a bit about my feelings on politicians and their affairs a few weeks ago. Yet again, we have the governor of South Carolina, Mark Sanford embroiled in controversy as he was caught amid lies and then forced to admit to an affair. The part that really irks me about him is two fold (and this is in addition to the fact that he was having an affair period): in his public apology he apologizes first for the pain he has caused his mistress. His friends, wife, and sons all follow. That says something. Along with that is the portion where he states he was crying his eyes out in Argentina the past five days. Why? Because he was heart broken over having to leave his mistress to actually honor the commitment he made to his wife? That really rubs me the wrong way. The second part of my frustration is that he and his wife were supposedly separated with the intent of strengthening their marriage. I'm not really sure how visiting your mistress for a week will result in a strengthening of your marriage commitment to the wife you have been cheating on.

Like I mentioned before, cheating by anyone is wrong, equally wrong regardless of what political party you belong to. However, it especially seems to irritate me when the Republican party, and this man in particular, makes a concerted effort to be America's moral police, constantly telling the rest of us what we ought to be doing, all the while doing exactly what they are railing against and condemning. These affairs just highlight the larger problem in America, or the world for that matter, which is a general degradation of morals and values.

People go around acting as if they are accountable to no one, as if vows they took and promises they made are meaningless, as if they are somehow above the other slime that lies, cheats, and steals, and as if an apology somehow makes it all better. This isn't simply limited to politicians. We hear more about politicians because they are in the public eye and possibly held to a higher standard, but everyday men and women engage in this same shameful behavior. It is nothing more than hubris that allows them to believe they will really get away with it.

Integrity is the measure of a person and if you cannot be trusted then there isn't much left.

It has become increasingly apparent with the recent DC Metro accident and Air France crash that people have developed a cavalier attitude towards safety. It is concerning that in both instances recommendations were made that would have ensured greater safety and both recommendations were either ignored or had not yet been implemented. It seems like there should be a way for travellers to check to see if the particular plane, train, or automobile that they are travelling in or on has had recommendations made and whether or not those were actually followed and implemented. It never ceases to amaze me when officials know that recommendations were made, choose not to prioritize them, and then act shocked when a catastrophic, life-taking event occurs. It makes me mad that the powers that be take these recommendations so cavalierly, as if life is inconsequential. Companies are worried about cost, time involved, and the work required. I understand that. However, it would sure be nice if that same level of concern was given to the lives of those who were on these ill-fated vessels of transportation. Maybe they wouldn't be dead now.

Until the past few weeks I have watched exactly one episode of Jon and Kate Plus Eight. The one I watched was so disturbing to me that I never tuned in again. I hated the way Kate barked at her husband, I hated witnessing how weak her husband either is or was portrayed, and it pained me to know that those eight kids now had a childhood tainted by "reality." However, this week I watched three episodes, including the one where the big divorce announcement was made. It made me cringe. It seems self-serving that they have chosen to take something private and painful and turn it into a public spectacle. Shame on them. Those children will now have footage for an eternity documenting the demise of their parents' marriage and the end of their family.

Honestly, as Jon and Kate began noticing things going south in their marriage they should have called it quits right then and there, got the cameras out of their house, and made a legitimate attempt to fix their marriage, or at least agree to end things in private and not with America watching. This should not be something that plays out in front of a camera. This isn't reality and it shouldn't be entertainment. There are children involved who will one day see this train wreck in all its glory. As a parent I would protect my children at all cost and I think in this situation the show should most certainly not go on chronicling the demise of a family.

So, what about society is bugging you right now? How do you feel about some of the above issues?

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

This Too Will Pass

Everything with children comes and goes in phases. This is true of behavior, interests, dislikes, sayings, and the like. When my daughter was first born she went through phases that were foreign to me. Heck, she was my first born; I didn't know what to expect. I thought when she screamed every night for three hours straight, just in order to calm herself, that this would never pass. But it did. I thought her unwillingness to share her toys with others might mean she'd grow up to be selfish. It too passed and she shares willingly and graciously now. I thought the horrible tantrums that lasted over a year and that would go on for hours meant she surely must have some behavioral disorder. I thought she would never overcome the incredible shyness she possessed early on. However, like all that had come before it too passed. The thing is that people told me it was a phase. They told me it would pass. My parents, my friends with children, my pediatrician, well-meaning acquaintances all assured me that nothing was wrong and all children behaved this way. Every child goes through a wide-range of phases. But I worried and fretted.

Then I had my son ( two years ago now) and while he hasn't gone through the same phases my daughter did he has gone through phases of his own, that eventually passed as well. I'm much more prepared this time around. I'm more relaxed and not convinced that every phase is an indication that I have somehow failed as a mother or that every tantrum is indicative of some type of behavioral issue that will guarantee my child a spot in the federal or state penal system down the road.

I wish I would have listened to everyone sooner. I wish I would have just chilled out a bit and not worried so much. I realize now how pointless all that worry was. My daughter has her days like any other child, but she's happy, healthy, caring, empathetic, sweet, intelligent, and the list goes on. She doesn't scream herself to sleep at night, she doesn't refuse to share her toys, she doesn't have tantrums that go on for hours. She's a normal, well-adjusted almost 4 year old.

Everything is a phase and everything will pass. As a parent it is hard for me to trust that sometimes. But I have to. I have living proof that this is true as I'd venture to say most parents do too.

So, what are/were some of the phases your children went through that you were convinced would never pass?

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Mommy's Gone Catatonic

I hurt my neck, shoulders, and upper back two weeks ago. Not really sure how but it feels like a combination of extreme whiplash, stiff neck, and pinched nerve. I have been very uncomfortable to say the least.

I was given muscle relaxers, despite my hesitation to use them. (I'm pretty anti-medication; unless absolutely vital I'd rather just tough it out instead of depending on medicine for relief). I was in so much pain last night that I broke down and took one. It helped a little in that my husband was able to rub my neck and shoulders very lightly without me crying out in excruciating pain. However, all day today I was in a fog. Beyond tired, barely functioning. Just wiped out. At one point I closed me and the kids in a bedroom and layed on the bed as they played, barely able to keep my eyes open. It was awful.

What I learned is that I can never take this particular muscle relaxer again if I want to be able to function at all the next day. It's strange too because I usually have a very high tolerance with medication. When I go to the dentist, no lie, they give me a minimum of 10 shots before I am numb. They've never seen anything like it. When I had a cap put on my tooth I received 16 shots. It was excruciating the next day when the numbness wore off. So, it's a little strange that one pill, in a low dose, had such an effect on me.

So, I am fairly certain that the next time I am prescribed a muscle relaxer I'll politely decline and just find a way to live with the pain. I think a chiropractor may be my next stop.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Crisis Averted

My grandma picked my daughter up from VBS today because I had a doctor's appointment for my son. When we got back I asked my daughter if she had fun. She started to tell me about all the things they had done and then wanted to show me an art project she had done that was apparently kept in this folder she had made. She was so excited, explaining the story behind the project, until she pulled it out and realized she had been sent home with the wrong project. Her face fell and she was so upset. In fact she kept repeating that, "Oh, mom I am just so upset. This is not my project. Oh, I am just so upset." I felt horrible.

I kept asking to make sure that it wasn't hers. (I should know better. This child remember detail.) It definitely wasn't. She told me how she colored hers, what colors she used, and was adamant that this was not the right project.

So, I spent the next 20 minutes, remaking the necessary materials in order for my daughter to recreate her project. Let's just say that I am not the most artistic person in the world. However, I will admit that it ended up coming out looking pretty darn close to the original. We sat down and redid the project the way she said she did initially and all was right with the world again.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Shot Down on Father's Day

Our daughter informed us this weekend that when she is a mommy she is going to have three kids and name them Moses, Aurora, and Belle. This then led to the discussion of whether or not she wanted any more brothers or sisters. She replied no and that she definitely does not want a sister (I think she likes the idea of being the only girl). When I told her she could help take care of a baby sister she replied that she wouldn't help because it is enough work helping to take care of her brother right now. My husband said, "That's not very nice. Princess Aurora would help and she has lots of sisters."

My daughter, not missing a beat, said, "Daddy, Princess Aurora does not have any sisters. She is an only child."

I guess if you are going to try to use stories to illustrate a point you ought to be familiar the details. Daughter: 1, Daddy: 0.

A Moment in Time.....Freeze It.

If my daughter's love affair with VBS is any indication then she will love preschool. Honestly, I am thrilled that she enjoyed it and I am sending her to VBS at our church this week, but I missed having her home during the mornings. It was nice to have that time to spend with my son and considering this past week he was so sick it gave me plenty of time to give him undivided attention, but it felt like something, more specifically someone, was missing.

In truth, she would probably be thrilled had I signed her up for preschool five days a week, but this past week solidified that just two times a week is probably all I will be okay with for now. She'll be in school for at least the next thirteen years of her life; I just don't want to rush it. I wish I could freeze her at this age and just keep her home with me.

Friday, June 19, 2009

When The Apple Falls Far

When I was a child I was painfully shy. I wouldn't go anywhere without my mom. She even had to sit in with me for Sunday School classes until I was five or six. When our daughter was young she seemed to be the same way and to some degree she is still very attached. However, she is much more outgoing than I ever was and I am thankful for that. She seems to have acquired my husband's comfortable social demeanor.

It started with the dance class she was enrolled in. I would have rather died than stand up in front of hundreds of people and perform. I'd still rather die than do that. She gladly did it with not an ounce of self-consciousness. Oh, to be so brave. She goes to friends houses and her cousins house and while for most people this is probably oh so normal, I am regularly amazed simply because I would have never done that at her age. Never.

This week she is in VBS at my sister's church and next week she'll attend VBS at our church. Every day this week I have walked her in, said goodbye, and left. She could have cared less, except for the one day her cousin wasn't there yet and she wanted me to wait. Today, we were running a little later than usual and I pulled in just as her friends and cousins were arriving. I let her out of the car and off she went to walk in with them. She didn't even turn back until I yelled "goodbye" out the window. She was just too excited to be with her friends.

It is wonderful to watch her brimming with self-confidence. She is her own person: headstrong and at times frustrating. But when I see how independent she is and how she does her own thing with little concern whether others do it or will like it I am thrilled. I like that she challenges what doesn't make sense. I like that she isn't swayed or influenced by others. All that can be so frustrating now are qualities that I will be thankful she possess later...although I am already thankful now.

What are/were some of the traits your children possess/possessed that are/were so opposite from you?

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Promise Breakers

I find it a bit disturbing the number of politicians who end up embroiled in scandal because of an affair. I have a bit of mixed feelings about the role ones morals play in his politics. On the one hand I tend to think that ones morals or lack thereof isn't necessarily reflective of his/her ability to represent or lead a people. On the other hand it certainly calls into questions one's credibility. If someone is willing to lie to his family, supposedly the most important people in his life, then what is to prevent that person from lying to the rest of us, those that can't hold him personally accountable?

When President Clinton admitted to his affair with Monica Lewinsky I thought less of him as a person but I never really felt that undermined any decisions he had made as President. I realize there are many who feel differently. Likewise, there have been other good politicians who have made poor choices and I am reticent to condemn them in their profession even though I may condemn their immorality (John Edwards comes to mind).

Where I feel a bit more strongly is with those politicians who make it part of their political agenda to regulate morality and then they themselves end up having an affair. It's almost as if there are some politicians you know are less moral and in some ways you expect it from them. Not that it makes it any less wrong, but there's not the stench of hypocrisy with it. Then you have guys like Ensign, part of the Religious Right, very outspoken in his criticism of Clinton and Larry Craig, calling for their heads, a member of Promise Keepers and various other "moral code" groups, who admits to and apologizes for an affair and expects to just move on. Why? Others have given similar statements and this man was not quick to forgive and move on. He made it a mission to connect these moral decisions to their ability or inability to perform the functions of their jobs. So, why should he be any different? Shouldn't he be held to the same standard that he used to judge others? There would probably be a lot less judgement if everyone agreed to be judged by the same measure they judged others.

I think cheating in any form is wrong and an affair definitely makes me think twice about the quality of the individual. I also think it is incredibly stupid for one who lives in the public eye to think he/she can get away with something of this nature. Someone knows something and eventually it comes out. But for me it is almost worse when you have someone portraying himself as morally above reproach, making morals a part of his political agenda, dictating what aspects of morality should be legislated, and has cast judgement and demanded penance for others who have strayed, and then this person is caught in the same type of personal shortcoming. It's enough to make me want to shout, "If you are immoral enough to cheat, go cheat, but then don't be preaching morality to the rest of us.....who aren't cheating."

Wednesday, June 17, 2009


My son became very ill Sunday evening with the flu. (Not the swine flu, just the old-fashioned flu..haha). He's had a very high fever, which has pretty much wiped him out. After dropping my daughter off at VBS the past three days we returned home where I have laid in bed with him, just holding him as he has dozed on and off. Yesterday, he was so sick and his fever so high that my mom thankfully offered to pick up my daughter so I could keep him in bed and let him sleep.

Sick kids break my heart, but this bout has especially tugged at my heartstrings. He just looks so weak and pathetic. In three days his feet have not touched the ground. For two solid days his body didn't leave mine; he was carried everywhere, held at all times, and slept on my chest. If I even thought about using the rest room he would cry pathetically and say in the saddest voice possible, "Hold me mommy. Please." It has been exhausting and I feel bad because my daughter has had to entertain herself for most of the past three days while I have been tending to her sick brother.

The plus side of this has been just getting to relax with him and cuddle with him so much. He's a pretty affectionate guy in general, a total mama's boy who is usually pretty willing to cuddle anyway. This has only exemplified that and while I have slept very little over the past three days just being able to comfort him while he has been so miserable makes it all worth while.

Smarty Pants

My daughter has been going to Vacation Bible School for two hours in the morning this week. My sister is the teacher of her class. Each day when I pick her up and ask her what she did she tells me that they didn't do anything. So, I get a bit more specific with my prompts and ask her what story they learned about Jesus, what song they sang, what project they did, etc. I have been getting the same vague answers....."Um, I'm not really sure", "I can't remember", "We didn't really learn anything today."

Yesterday, after asking her these same questions she finally just says, "Why don't you just call E (my sister) and ask her. I'm sure she can tell you what you need to know."

Monday, June 15, 2009

Why I Dislike Costumes

Our daughter is attending Vacation Bible School at my sister's church this week, which is a sister congregation to the church my husband and I attend. When I pulled in the parking lot this morning, a couple minutes early, there were only a few cars in the parking lot. Standing in the corner of the breezeway I would need to walk through to enter the building was a man who had on dark glasses, a hood of some variety, and his face was also covered. He was standing there still, arms akimbo. He looked like the Unibomber, I kid you not. It unnerved me and I circled back in the parking lot, hesitant to get out of the car. Call me paranoid but with the proliferation of church shootings lately I wondered if this church was next. Honestly, there was a brief second where I contemplated getting out of there as fast as I could and calling the police.

During the time I was having this internal dialogue with myself the man turned around and revealed the rest of the costume: fins. Apparently, he was supposed to be a shark as the theme of VBS was "Dive In." It was at that moment my heart began to beat again.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Vacay with a Capital V

My husband and I wanted to take the kids and get away for the weekend. We didn't want to go far so we were looking for places either here in Tucson or Phoenix. We have had great luck with Priceline in the past, but I thought I'd look around on Expedia. I came across this resort and casino on the outskirts of Scottsdale. It first grabbed my attention because if we stayed Friday and Saturday night they would give you Friday night free. I thought it must be a dump, but it was rated 4 stars. I started looking through the pictures and the place was gorgeous. We booked a room immediately and headed up Friday morning.

The place was incredible. Great pools, great service, wonderfully family friendly, and the weather was gorgeous for this time of year. We spent Friday at the pool. Friday night there was a Dive In Movie that we watched for a bit and then when the kids and my husband went to bed I hit the casino. I won some money (which is something that NEVER happens) and was feeling pretty good. *

Saturday we spent most of the day at the pool. I did manage to spend another hour at the casino and just when I was about to give up (I'd lost 20 bucks, won it back, and figured I better get out now) when I won BIG....big enough to pay for the trip and still have some left over. Needless to say that put us all in a great mood. That afternoon the hotel had arts and crafts by the side of the pool. The kids could go into the hotel kitchen and cook a dessert with the chef and then the dessert is delivered to your room for you to eat later. There were also face painters, air brush tattoos, and a man drawing caricatures. It was a blast and our kids were exhausted by the evening.

We managed to get both to take a nap which is amazing.** My daughter gave up naps over two years ago but she sacked out for over two hours. That night we went back to the pool, watched the Dive In Movie and stayed up late just hanging out.

When it was time to head back Sunday afternoon we were all pretty sad. Usually by the end of a little get-away I am anxious to get home. Not this time; we are already trying to plan when we can get back.

So, what have been some of your favorite last minute get-aways or vacations?

Our daughter getting her feet wet.
My husband and daughter playing outside in the evening.

My husband and son taking a dip in the pool.

Our son and daughter heading to the pool.

My daughter, son, and husband.
* Before having kids my husband and I would go to the casino here in town once in a while. I NEVER won. And by never, I mean never. I exaggerate not. My husband would win, those we went with would win, but I would always lose money. This was the first time and it was only on one machine in this casino. My husband was shocked when he found out a)I actually won and b) the amount I won was sizeable.
**I don't know if it was because we did so much swimming that the kids slept so well or if it was because the room had those black out blinds or if it was a combination, but our kids SLEPT. It was magical. For the first time in two years our son slept the entire night. I thought my husband may have rolled over on him and smothered him.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

All I Do Is Love You

My daughter has always been really good about picking up after herself and putting her toys away when she is done playing. That is, until recently. She now takes out every possible item in her room to play with, which is fine, but then doesn't put anything back, which is not fine. Yesterday, she again had taken every toy she owns out and they were all over her floor, bed, dresser, kitchen set, and play house. EVERYWHERE! At 3:50 I asked her to start picking up her room. She would disappear into her room and when I would go to check on her she would be sitting there playing. This kept repeating and lest you think I am stupid for not standing over her I was trying also to get the rest of the house picked up before we leave town and dinner made.

She comes downstairs for dinner telling me that she had put some things away. After dinner when I went to look it pretty much looked the same. I had it. I grabbed a trash bag, walked into her room, and threw everything in the bag. It filled a full sized garbage bag and then a smaller bag as well. Of course she was hysterical about her toys. (No, I am not throwing them away, but I am holding on to them for a while until she can demonstrate an ability to pick up what she takes out).

Daughter (sobbing hysterically): Don't throw out my toys.
Me: I have asked you to pick up your toys. You didn't, so now mommy is going to keep them until you can show me that you know how to pick up when you are done playing.
Daughter: But now I don't have any toys to play with.
Me: You still have plenty.
Daughter: But those are my favorite toys.
Me: You should have listened to mommy then because this is what happens when you don't listen.
Daughter: You hurt my feelings.
Me: How did I hurt your feelings?
Daughter: You took my toys away and hurt my feelings.
Me: I'm sorry that your feelings are hurt, but it hurts my feelings when you disobey me.
Daughter: You hurt my feelings and all I do is love you so much.
Me: (trying to stifle laughter): I always love you so much too, but you still have to pick up your toys.

Today, she was more than helpful in picking up, not only her own toys, but her younger brother's as well. She then asked if she is good on vacation if she can have her "good toys" back.

Why I May Change My Views on Homeschooling

Today I was at the gym. I don't go to socialize. I go to work out. Nothing bugs me more than loud personal conversations between "workout buddies." If you want to talk, go grab coffee. Anyway, two teenage girls hop on the elliptical machines next to me and begin chatting with each other. Almost immediately the conversation turns to their recent experience with the drug Ecstasy. One starts talking about how it made people who walked by her look as if they disappeared. The other talked about how she kept asking people how their trip to China was, even though no one had gone to China. I have never done ecstasy so I have no idea if this is a normal reaction or not. Either way, the casual way they were discussing their drug use, which wasn't just limited to ecstasy, was disturbing.

Then tall, dark haired girl turns to short, blond haired girl and tells her that she gave a classmate a blow job in the hallway during the last week of school. This then leads to a discussion about which friend is doing what to which boy and it was at that point I decided to lock my daughter in her room, never allow her to leave the house, and homeschool her until she is twenty-three and a college graduate. She will then work from home until she is twenty-seven at which point I will will pick out a nice man for her to marry and then bear my grandchildren.

As I got off the elliptical and walked behind them to leave I noticed they were both wearing shirts from a well-respected Christian high school here in town, where the student body doesn't really have a reputation of drug using, sex-crazed individuals. It's not that I am naive enough to think that kids who attend a Christian school or Christians in general don't do this type of thing, but it was a little surprising that they attended this particular school and they were talking about behaviors that apparently are common place among many students who attend this fine institution with such a cavalier attitude. I would expect this from students of some other schools; I taught high school for six years. I know more than I ever cared to know about teenage behavior.

I was tempted to say something as I walked out. There were so many things running through my mind, but ultimately I said nothing. I, instead, made a silent promise to myself that my husband now has my permission to buy a gun and make sure that he is cleaning it each and everytime our kids have guests over when they become teens, all the while chanting, "I shoot to kill. I don't like to waste bullets" or something to that effect.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Tori and Dean: To Have The Issues They Have

Last year I started watching a show called Tori and Dean: Home Sweet Hollywood, which is a reality show starring, as the name suggests, Tori Spelling and Dean McDermott. I am rather ashamed to admit that I have been sucked in. It is like a train wreck; I know I should look away, but I keep watching to see how bad it really is. I am conflicted because I have a host of issues with both Tori and Dean, mainly that they had an affair with each other when they were both married to other people, and also with the especially insensitive way Dean dealt with the aftermath. My feelings are that the mistress who marries the man creates a job opening. Their morals, or lack thereof, is a topic for another time, though.

The truth is that it is not so much that I like their show or find them particularly interesting, but rather that it consistently baffles me that the issues they view as problems are problems most of us would kill to have, like how to juggle the variety of television and movie roles they have been offered. Equally baffling is the way they react and whine (there is no better word for it) about the times when they actually have to raise and be responsible for their own children. Admittedly, by Hollywood standards they do not receive as much in-home help as other celebrities (and no, I don't consider either Tori or Dean a celebrity in the truest sense of the word). However, by the standards most mothers would apply, they both receive an incredible amount of help from friends, a hired baby-nurse (aka nanny), and others who arrange their schedules and care for their children when they can't be bothered to make those arrangements themselves like the rest of us.

So, I am watching last night and their baby nurse (who seems like a really lovely lady) is out of town visiting her own family. During her absence Tori decides to take the two kids to visit their father on set of a photo shoot. This task about kills her and it looks like the most unnatural thing in the world for her to do. She acts like she has just brokered world peace for simply being able to dress two kids, load them in a car, drive them, unload them, strap them in a stroller, and then supervise them once out in public. I have two kids. Running errands is not always easy and sometimes it is downright miserable, but it is something every mom I know does on a daily basis and not one of us acts like we deserve a medal.

Also in last nights episode they had to plan, pack, and load for a trip to Canada. You can tell this is something that they rarely do for themselves. The sheer shock Tori expresses at the amount of stuff she has to pack for her children is telling. I am in complete agreement that packing for children should be an Olympic event. Not much is left behind and it can be a pain in the rear, but people have been doing it since the beginning of time and I don't know anyone who has died from it yet.

There's not any "lesson" or "moral" to this story, other than to say that I find their show entertaining primarily because the "issues" that so consume them are part of the average person's everyday life.

**Disclaimer: I will say, in their defense, that both parents seem to love their children very much, treat them nicely, and for the most part are pretty involved. I don't think they are neglectful, abusive, or anything of that nature.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

You Couldn't Pay Me to Board An Air France Flight

I have a pretty big fear of flying. I'll avoid it at all costs if I can. In college, when our team would have to fly for games in other states my coaches would have to drug me so that I slept the entire flight. It was terrible. I haven't been on a plane since 2002 and would rather spend days driving to a destination than to fly.

Needless to say, the recent Air France crash has only solidified this fear (irrational as it may be) and I have seen and read the search updates. Last night I had a very upsetting dream that my husband, the kids and I were on an Air France flight that crashed in middle of the ocean. We survived, but were in middle of the ocean with no land in sight. I was holding both kids and frantically trying to keep them above water. My husband, who in real life is not that great of a swimmer, was struggling just to keep himself afloat. In this dream, I knew that death and the death of my children was inevitable. I kept going under and as I got weaker I couldn't hold the kids above my head to keep them from going under. I was mercifully woken up from this dream when my husband left for work this morning. I told him about it and semi-jokingly said, "Nobody we know better step foot on an Air France flight."

I have these weird premonitions sometimes where dreams or feelings come true or a fairly close variation comes to fruition. It's unnerving but I have also avoided some close calls by following these "feelings."

My father is traveling to Paris. I knew it was coming up, but was unaware that the trip was today. Apparently, he left DC and flew into New York on American Airlines. There his flight was cancelled due to weather. In order to get him to his destination they put him on an Air France flight. He called my mother from the airport to let her know his itinerary had changed. She mentioned it to me when I was talking to her later.

I'm sure this dream, the flight change, and the crash are all mere coincidences, but it is a bit unnerving. I don't have a "feeling" that his flight is going to crash, but considering recent events I think I'd have been a little apprehensive about boarding a flight on the same type of jet that just killed over 200 people apparently due to equipment failure.

Monday, June 8, 2009

You Are Under Arrest????

A young man is getting married. His buddies decide to rent a huge U-Haul, fill it with couches, chairs, and coolers of beer, and drive it around from location to location for the Bachelor Party, as a type of "Party Bus." These same buddies decide it would be fun to "kidnap" the groom from his fiance's house. To do this they wear ski masks and end up dragging the groom from the house with his hands tied and face covered. A neighbor standing in her front yard, witnesses this and calls police to report a kidnapping. The "Party Bus" is pulled over; keep in mind the boys in back have no idea what is going on. They think they are at a stop light. The driver of the "Party Bus" tries to explain, with little success, that the "kidnapped" is a willing participant. Soon, the back of the U-Haul opens two feet, cops have guns drawn, ordered all the boys out with their hands up. They walk out to discover they are surrounded by five police cars and two motorcycle cops. Because there is no AC in the back, and it is Arizona, some of these guys are in various stages of undress.

The boys are lined up along the side of the road. The cops pull the groom aside to make sure he is indeed a soon-to-be groom and not an actual victim. The cops also start asking for ID which is in the pants that were left in the U-Haul. The cops then climb in and start sifting through pants to find ID's, a sight that amused the boys standing on the side of the road in their boxers.

Once they determine it is indeed a bachelor party the cops don't know what to do. The boys overhear this conversation:

Cop 1: What the f#@! do we do now?
Cop 2: How the F#@! should I know?
Cop 1: Do we ticket them or take them in?
Cop 2: For what? It's a U-Haul?
Cop 1: Aren't there some laws about U-Hauls?
Cop 2: How the f#@! should I know? And I don't really want to look it up.
Cop 1: Should we just let them go?
Cop 2: I guess so.

Following this a cop then says, "Okay, boys pile back in" and proceeds to load the boys back into the U-Haul. Once they have all climbed in he hollers, "All set guys?" They all say "Yes" and then the cop locks them back in the rear of the U-Haul. Apparently, the cops had a pretty good laugh over this.

True story.

So, any fun bachelor or bachelorette party stories you'd care to share?

Sunday, June 7, 2009

The Boy Turns Two

Our son turned two last weekend, however we had his party today. As you can tell we had a bit of a hybrid theme: Thomas the Train and Dinosaurs. Goes together, don't you think? He seemed to be a little bashful with all the attention focused on him. Below we are singing "Happy Birthday" and all the little man wants to do is bury his head in my shoulder. He eventually came around and blew out his candles and definitely devoured his piece of the cake. Once the door bell started ringing and the guests started arriving he went and buried himself behind the cushions on the couch. Apparently, all the birthday wishes embarassed him.
Needless to say, it took all of five minutes before he got the hang of it and started ripping open presents and playing with the other kiddies. All in all it was a really fun day.

The Elusive Hat

Every summer we spend quite a bit of time at the pool. I'm very paranoid about sun burns and skin cancer so I always lather up the kids (and me and my husband) with a ton of sunscreen and make the kids wear those UVA/UVB protectant rash guards over their swim suits. I also make them wear wide brimmed hats. When they were little and their heads were smaller it was really easy to find cute little summer hats. However, now that they are older (and their heads are bigger) it is almost impossible to find these hats. All we were looking for were wide brimmed hats, preferably able to get wet and also preferably treated to block UVA/UVB rays. Ultimately, I would have taken any wide-brimmed hat I could find though.

Due to our impending trip this week and the likelihood that most of it will be spent by or in the pool it was a bit more urgent that these hats were purchases soon. I really didn't think it would be like searching for a lost treasure. Over the past two days we have visited eight stores in search of these elusive hats. It was not until the eighth store that we found them. We went to Target, Walmart, two pool supply stores, Toys r Us, Sports Authority, and Big Five. Our last ditch effort, which should have been our first, was Summit Hut. Of course they had a huge selection to choose from; they are also the most expensive. At this point though it was worth it to be to just get them a)so that my kids had some protection and b)so I could quit spending my days driving around town.

Honestly, though. Of all the places, Arizona should not be one that is difficult to find hats that block the sun. We do have about 350 days of sunshine a year (just my guess, nothing factual) and I believe Arizona has one of the highest rates of skin cancer as well. Wide brimmed hats should be like chicle in Mexico. They should be on every corner.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Blowin' This Joint

I complain a lot about the hot weather here in Arizona. However, one of the things I do like about living here is that nine months out of the year you can comfortably swim in an outdoor pool. My husband, the kids, and I will often rent a room at a resort here in town or travel two hours north to Phoenix and stay in a resort there and spend a few days relaxing by the pool, ordering room service, and otherwise just enjoying our time together.

So, this coming Friday we are heading to Phoenix to spend three days doing just that. We got an incredible deal at a gorgeous resort and plan to spend the time swimming, getting massages, eating well, and hopefully catching up on some sleep. The kids are incredibly excited...our daughter especially, loves to stay at resorts and I am glad that we can get out of town for a few days together and just have fun.

What are some of your favorite things to do with your family during the summer?

Friday, June 5, 2009

Why A Boy Needs a Brother

My husband's only sibling is a sister who he doesn't get along with very well. Without getting into an entirely different issue, we don't really have much of a relationship with his parents and haven't for a number of years. As we have had children and made attempts to involve them, only to be ignored and rebuffed, I have often thought about how things might have been easier for my husband had he had a brother. I have thought so much about it that possibly being able to give our son a brother is making me seriously consider having another child. I love having a boy and a girl. I would not have wanted it any other way and honestly, I'd probably be content if we stopped right now. However, there is a part of me that truly believes in the importance of boys having brothers. (I realize that if we decide to have a third child I have no guarantee it would be a boy). This next statement will probably garner some opposition, but I think it is more important than girls having sisters.

Here's my reasoning. Girls who do not have sisters or who do not have especially close relationships with their sisters fill that void with their relationships with other women. Women are social beings. We make friends. That is not to say that men don't, but as a general rule they are more reserved, they play things closer to the vest. They are not as likely to create the type of brotherly bond with a friend like girls do when they create sisterly bonds with friends. With brothers it is different. Someone has their back, someone is automatically on their side. (The same argument could be made for sisters as well, I'll admit). I want that for my son.

I have two brothers that are six years apart. As they have gotten older they have become closer. They now live in two separate states, but they used to build and fix things together, they still talk and ask each other for advice, tease each other, and insult each other as only brothers do. While they don't like to acknowledge it or put it on display they love each other dearly. I have a close relationship with them both and would expect that my daughter would share a similarly close relationship with her brother when they are older and any future brother she may have.

I'm curious as to what you think? Is there a different bond that brothers share than sisters? Does it depend on the family and those dynamics? What has been your experience?

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Customer Satisfaction

My husband used to work for a car dealership in town where he was paid on commission only. They frequently messed up his paycheck, sometimes by as little as a hundred, but often closer to a thousand or more. Each time he'd jump through the hoops to request the shorted money and it always took at least a week to get the money he was owed. This annoyed me and infuriated me to no end as they always acted as if it was no big deal and we could just wait until they got around to it.

Last week, we bought a mini-van from this dealership. We wrote out a check for the down payment. I had some incredibly intense second thoughts about this purchase and we ultimately ended up returning the car the next morning. They assured us they cancelled payment on the check; we trusted this to be true.

Well, last night I discovered that they had indeed cashed the check two days ago. This morning my husband called to inform them of the error. They were very apologetic and assured us they would cut a check today. Sure enough we got a call telling us that the check would be ready this afternoon. I made the comment that this was the fastest that they had ever corrected an error in the almost three years my husband worked there. Apparently, according to them, customer satisfaction is more important than employee satisfaction.


Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Summer Time

It is no secret that I much prefer the winter months to the harsh Arizona summers. However, as summer has officially begun I have started realizing that there are parts of the summer I actually really enjoy. I love the sound of feet on the pool deck, the sound of water splashing as kids play in the pool, and the smell of chlorine that permeates the skin after a day at the pool. I love that fresh fruit can be found everywhere. There is nothing better than eating fresh peaches with the juice dripping down your arm. Or sitting on the porch eating watermelon with your kids. Our fruit bowl is currently overflowing with all types of fresh fruit.
I guess if I can tolerate the triple digit temperatures for the next handful of months then I will realize there is plenty to be happy about this summer.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Move It and Speed it Up

I went grocery shopping today with both of my children...and I mean GROCERY SHOPPING. This was not a quick trip in for a couple of things; this was restock the fridge, freezer, pantry which have stood virtually empty for a few days now. Shopping with both children is something I usually try to avoid simply because my son is so active. He's hanging out of the "car" cart, grabbing things off the shelves as we drive by, talking non-stop and loudly, and a host of other exhausting antics. Unless I am looking for punishment I try to grocery shop on Sundays so I can leave him home with my husband.

Now to just the casual observer the shopping trip would appear to be seamless and effortless. My daughter is perfectly behaved and my son, while active and exasperating, would appear that way to no one but me, primarily because I spend the entire trip saying, "Don't touch that, keep your arms in the cart, don't stick your head there" so all most people see is a crazed looking woman pushing a car full of food and two cherub faced kids.

I don't know what it is about my kids and the grocery store, but we seem to attract every old lady in the store. My goal when entering the store is to get in and out as soon as possible to minimize the damage my son can do. I don't want to stop for anything, nor do I want to talk to anyone, whether I know them or not. However, today every older woman stopped to talk about how cute they were and how well-behaved they were and how they remembered when their children were that little and how one woman's son now lives on the other side of the country and he never visits her and he hardly calls her and a son could call his mother once in a while, didn't I think and on and on (kind of like this sentence).

I don't want to sound like a snob because most times I am more than willing to stop and talk and accommodate the older ladies who want to coo over my kids. However, the grocery store is not one of those times. Today's excursion took over an hour because we were stopped six times....yes six (there was a bus from a local retirement village that had just dropped off the residents for their weekly shopping) and by the end I was dripping sweat and exhausted. The kids were full of energy and ready to play.

Monday, June 1, 2009

When Money Doesn't Grow On Trees

I'm picky about my belongings. I take good care of my things because ultimately I don't want them broken or ruined. Sometimes I go a little overboard, but it comes down to me not wanting to have to spend money to replace something that was needlessly or carelessly destroyed. This carefulness has extended to a lot of my kids' things. I realize they are kids and some toys are going to get broken and that type of thing doesn't both me so much when they are little or if the toys are inexpensive. However, when older children (I'd say four or older) are careless or reckless with belongings and those belongings as a result get broken it upsets me. Obviously, the more expensive the toy the more upset I usually am. As a general rule we try not to buy overly expensive things. However, our children do have some nice toys that were pricey and honestly, I don't have the money to constantly throw around to replace "big ticket" items when they are damaged. It is an expectation that our kids play with toys the way they were intended and I can say that 99 percent of the time we have zero issues with that. They don't break their toys or treat them roughly or recklessly.

So, this morning when my daughter almost broke my son's new train table I about blew a gasket. My husband and I bought him a train set for his birthday. When we bought it we thought he could just play with it on the floor. That was until we opened it, saw how elaborate it was, and realized if we didn't get a train table for it I would be putting it together multiple times a day. No thank you. Off we went last night to buy him a train table, which we put together so it would be all ready this morning.

Fast forward to this morning when the kids are playing at the table, start fighting over a train, and my daughter starts jumping up and down wildly as if that will somehow solve something and comes down on the open drawer. I couldn't see the end result yet, but in my mind I thought for sure it was broken. It fortunately was not. Had she landed a few centimeters to the left she would have ripped the drawer right out of the table. Either way, I was mad (more at her behavior than the result) and she was sent to her room.

I know this may be a flaw, but honestly I don't care. I like my things, and by extension my kids' things, a certain way and I also don't want them getting into the habit of thinking it is okay to treat something badly and oh well if it breaks. What are/were some of your pet peeves when it came to your children's toys?